The focus of this chapter is on the development of policy for higher education from the mid-1980s, when what might be called the ‘Robbins settlement’ fi rst began to crumble, to the mid-2010s, when the drift towards the growth of more market-oriented forms of higher education has become perhaps an irreversible trend. In these three decades, the United Kingdom developed a truly mass system, in 2015 enrolling 2.4 million students (making the UK one of Europe’s ‘big four’ higher education systems, alongside France, Germany and Poland) with a participation rate nudging 50 per cent of all school leavers (more than half in Scotland) (HESA, 2015). The same period witnessed a revolution in the curriculum of higher education, in terms of entirely new subjects (especially in healthcare, information sciences and management), of new course structures (notably with regard to interdisciplinary courses) and of new forms of course delivery (culminating in the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses [MOOCs] but also refl ecting the revolution in communication technologies and communicative cultures represented by the rise of social networking). It also saw a revolution in research, in extent and depth, in productivity and in performance, with the result that, on most measures, the UK is second only to the United States in standing and esteem. All these, benefi cial, changes refl ect the impact of ‘policy’ in its widest sense, national initiatives, institutional strategies and also the deliberate action of disciplinary and professional communities.